Public sector staff hold strike over pay and pensions

01/07/11

British immigration officer

Public sector workershave held a 24-hour strike over government plans that will see changes to their pensions and could mean they work longer.

Some Border Agency staff walked out on Wednesday night with thousands of schools in England and Wales, FE colleges, some job centres and airports all shut or partially closed.

Up to three-quarters of a million public workers stayed away.

The unions claim some workers will have to put off retirement for longer, pay more into their pension but maybe get less back when they leave work.

The government says it has to rewrite pensions because taxpayers can't afford to keep paying as people live longer.

Treasury minister Justine Greening thinks the strikes are a mistake.

She said: "This is disruptive and I think there's a question about how representative these strikes are of what civil servants think.

"Apparently only 22% of teachers actually support the strike action."

Police leave has been cancelled in London, where union leaders and thousands of activists will take part in a march, followed by a rally in Westminster.

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber, who is in Exeter for a rally, said: "The burden of deficit reduction is being piled unfairly onto millions of low and medium-paid public sector workers who did nothing to cause the crash.

"Their pay has already been frozen for two years, even though inflation is higher than it has been for over a decade."